Well, we are back in Greensburg. The impending snow storm is proof of it.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your support. And thanks for following along this past week. For a number of students, this was a life-changing experience. Some of them may not even realize it yet, but I can assure you that this trip is transformational for many.
The students learned so much about each other, about themselves, and about the community in which they served all week. They stepped out of their comfort zones, and challenged one another to do so all week. But they also laughed and had fun. They developed special bonds with one another, and most will remain friends long after this semester. To be honest, we're kind of like one big family now.
Each year, I am reminded how fortunate I am to work with such fabulous, selfless students. Each year, I am also reminded how amazing the Habitat for Humanity organization is. This year was no different.
What many of you may not realize is that there is a great deal of reflection that the students do on this trip. Each night, we circle up in a common area and reflect on our day and our week. One particular comment that one of our students made will always stick with me. On Thursday night, she said to the group, "You know, I was so set on transferring, but this trip has me reconsidering that."
There are so many special people to thank right now. But I want to focus on one person in particular - Katie Byers, our president and trip leader. She put so much into planning this trip, and she did an amazing job. Coordinating a trip for 25 people is no easy task. However, she did it, and excelled at it.
I would invite you to check out some of the photos we've posted to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/upghfh. Or check out my album of photos here.
I’m Katie and I am currently a senior at Pitt-Greensburg. This year, I have the honor of being the campus chapter President, as well as the spring break trip coordinator. This was my fourth – and, sadly, final – spring break trip with Habitat, and I can easily say that each year the trip has been the sole highlight of my year. These trips have impacted my life so much, and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to be the coordinator this year.
As yesterday was our last day on the work site, today marked the beginning of our 11-hour journey back to Greensburg. Throughout the week, I watched 25 selfless individuals come together to leap outside comfort zones, form meaningful connections, and challenge each other. It was really an incredible experience to take a backseat and watch how much each person grew in just a week. Each day on the work site, I noticed everyone trying new skills, motivating others, and making unforgettable memories.
I was particularly impressed with how supportive everyone was. The set-up of our work site allowed us to form four teams that we worked with closely during the week. Each group formed a truly special bond that allowed them to fully support and motivate each other to continue to step out of their comfort zones. Even though a large portion of the group had no prior Habitat-related experience, everyone was willing and eager to learn new skills on the site. I was really impressed by this continuous motivation, and I think it really says something about the true colors of the group.
Each year, I try to compare the trip to the others I have been on. However, the truth is that these trips can’t be compared. Each trip is so special in its own way, and each brings new learning experiences. This year was different for me, as I feel I learned more about others than myself. I was able to step back and observe how others learned and grew. I learned how beautiful each member of the trip is in their own way. It never fails to amaze me how 25 people can come as strangers and leave as family. The one thing that truly binds us together is Habitat, and I think it’s a beautiful thing that an opportunity within an organization has the power to break such barriers.
The connections and endless memories we made would be impossible without the support from our campus community, friends, and family. On behalf of our Habitat for Humanity trip crew, I would like to extend my gratitude to you all for your support. We consistently receive generous support from our campus Student Government Association; each year, they have been the main reason why our trip can happen. We are also very overwhelmed by your support and donations. This year, over 100 donors helped us surpass our goal by a landslide! We are very thankful for you all!
Our students, overall, had an experience of a lifetime, and they are already eager and talking about joining the trip next year! For now, we will be continuing our Habitat love by working on houses within the Greensburg community!
Hey, everyone. Marla here!
I'm currently a sophomore at Pitt-Greensburg and this is my first-ever Spring Break Habitat for Humanity trip.
Today (Friday), we started off our day at the work site finishing any projects our teams may have started yesterday in order to complete all of the door and window frames for the projected house blueprints. Once we were all done, our site supervisors created a bit of a friendly competition for each team to partake in. The first event was the hammer toss which is equivalent to horseshoes except we used hammers. Next up was the nail drive followed by the main event, building a bench. Each team had to build a fully-usable bench within a certain amount of time. “Team Lady Hammers” ended up winning the bench competition while the “Lady Badasses” won the hammer toss and nail drive.
Earlier in the week, everyone was asked to use wood to make some sort of souvenir to take back for ourselves. We then gave them to Chip, our volunteer coordinator, so he could do something a little special to them. During lunch today, Chip gave each of our homemade souvenirs back with a golden screw in them, transforming them into paperweights. He also held a small awards ceremony for our group. We each received a certificate of achievement entitling us as almost professionals in the use of a compound miter saw, circular saw, power drill, hammer and nails, and a speed square. Our advisor Brian Root was awarded a Golden Hammer award since this is his 10th Habitat Collegiate Challenge trip.
As our last day on the work site came to an end, we said our goodbyes to all the work site advisors and went back to the church to get ready for dinner. Chip was very adamant about having dinner at The Varsity. He had been talking about it since the first day in Georgia so we decided to meet him there to try it out. It's the world's largest drive-thru restaurant offering hot dogs, hamburgers, and chili. It has very reasonable prices and great pie; I recommend the peach! After dinner, we took a group picture with Chip and were free to roam the city of Atlanta at our leisure.
Today was our last day in Georgia and I don't think any of us are ready to go back to reality. We are truly grateful for the hospitality that DeKalb Habitat has shown us and cannot thank them enough for all they have done for us over the past week. Overall, this has been an incredible experience and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to participate in it.
Twenty-five strangers, give or take a few veterans, went on a trip to Georgia for one common cause and will return home as one family :)
Hi everybody! It’s Brooke.
This is my second spring break trip with Habitat for Humanity. I’m a junior at Pitt-Greensburg and I currently serve as the Awareness and Advocacy Committee Chair for our campus chapter of Habitat.
Today was our third day on the worksite and the weather was sunny and seventy-something—a far cry from the snow expected tonight back in Greensburg. We’ve definitely been enjoying the sun, maybe even a little too much; many students are currently sporting various degrees of sunburn. After rubbing in some aloe and maybe a little sunscreen, we set to work on completing the window and door frames.
Our team’s supervisor was unable to be at the site today, but that didn’t stop us from completing a window and door frame all on our own before lunchtime. Our team, Bobcats the Builders, really stepped it up and we were able to complete our frames without outside help. We read the plans, measured and cut the wood, and assembled it by ourselves. That alone instilled a sense of accomplishment in us and I’ve enjoyed getting to work with such eager and determined people.
During lunch, the whole group got together and shared positive things that we noticed about each other over the last few days. I think this reflection activity was a great way to boost confidence and recognize all the hard work and positive interactions that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. It’s safe to say that we have a group of students who genuinely care about others and put a ton of effort into their work.
We ended up having a short day because we all worked so quickly that we were ahead of schedule and finished all the window and door frames needed for the house! The construction coordinator on our site mentioned having a friendly competition between the teams tomorrow, so I’m excited to see what that might be!
We got back to the church earlier than normal, so that gave us all a chance to unwind for a little. After a much-needed nap, I set out with a small group to go explore the surrounding areas. We went to Matthew’s Cafeteria for fried chicken and some delicious pie. Afterwards, we did some window shopping and stopped for coffee on our way back for dinner. The dinner crew did a superb job preparing pasta and meatballs with side salads. We then cleaned up and went to Bruster’s for ice cream—I highly recommend the Irish cream!
Tomorrow will be our last day on the worksite. I’m really proud to see all the students who have stepped out of their comfort zones this week. The students who fearlessly picked up a power tool for the first time on this trip or made and effort to get to know new people both inspired and challenged me to meet their enthusiasm and get more comfortable on the worksite myself and be more open with those around me. I’m looking forward to what tomorrow has in store and I’m thankful to be a part of this amazing group!
Brooke is photographed second from the right.
Day 4: Wednesday
Hi ya’ll, Scott here. Lately you’ve been hearing from current students sharing their thoughts on the day, but this time you’ll being hearing from my perspective as an alumnus. I graduated from Pitt-Greensburg in 2014 and currently work at the University of Pittsburgh and am a graduate student in the Katz MBA program at Pitt. This is my 4th spring break volunteering with Habitat.
This morning I struggled to wake up since a group of us stayed up until almost 2am playing basketball in the church gym, but it was worth it. After arriving on the worksite, we all broke out into our groups from Monday to continue working on our door and window frames. Being a returner, one of my favorite parts of these trips is seeing people who have never worked with tools before overcome their fears and reservations about using them. From Monday to today, our group improved so much and I so happy to see the progress we made. It took my group a while to finish our first project, a window frame, but by the end of the day, we had started our third project, a door frame.
For lunch, a group made everyone chicken wraps and they were delicious. Lunch is always nice because it’s a time when everyone can come together and talk about how their day is going and that’s a nice time to get to know someone new. Today I sat with a group that I haven’t had a lot of chances to speak with and I got to know them a lot better.
After working on the site, we cleaned up a little and then drove into Atlanta for an Atlanta Hawks basketball game, which DeKalb Habitat generously gave us tickets for. Our van ride was filled with good music, laughter, and some great bonding. This was the first NBA game that I’ve ever attended and the group I sat with had a great time. This was the first trip I’ve been on in which the affiliate sponsor provided us with something free to do, so this was an experience that was truly special. Once we returned, inspired by the Hawk’s win, a bunch of us played basketball until people decided to go to bed.
Overall, this trip has been a rewarding experience and the people I’ve met are ones I hope to keep in contact with after. It always amazes me how a group of 25 people from different walks of life can come together for a week and just get along so well and really get to know each other.
As a grad, I’m so impressed with this year’s group of students and can’t wait to see what they go on to do at Pitt-Greensburg and beyond.
Scott is photographed below using the saw and again in the group photo with his worksite team.
Hey, everyone! This is Allie.
I am a senior and this is my first spring break trip with Habitat for Humanity.
Today did not go exactly as planned. We woke up this morning and were told that we were not going to the work site today due to high chances of rain. We took advantage of this and went exploring. Our site advisor gave us ideas of places we could go visit, such as The World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, and many more.
We started off the morning by allowing our cooking groups to meet and prep what they could for lunch and dinner. I am in the lunch group for Wednesday. So, we went on a Walmart adventure and bought food for chicken wraps.
We decided to have a picnic style lunch today and went to Henderson Park and hung out there for the afternoon. People played frisbee, soccer, hiked, geocached, and just enjoyed the outdoors. This was a fun way for everyone to hang out, try new things, and get to know everyone more. After a few hours at the park, we went to Georgia Aquarium. At the aquarium, we watched different shows like the sea lions and dolphins. We also got to touch starfish, a shark, and see some awesome things. We finished the day by having tacos for dinner and relaxing as a group.
Even though today was not exactly a work day, it allowed us to get to know the area more and to understand what the people here enjoy doing.
Tomorrow we are getting back to work at the site and I am excited to challenge myself more. I am excited to continue to be productive and know that our group is influencing and making a difference in someone’s life no matter how big or small our task is. I am glad I had the chance to join this group and become a part of this Habitat family. Thanks to everyone who contributed and helped make this trip possible for all of us!
Allie is far right in the top photo below.
Hey guys! This is Tyler.
This is my first spring break trip with Habitat for Humanity. I am a freshman at Pitt-Greensburg.
Today was our first day at work. It was not as early of a morning as I thought it would be (which was good). We all woke up and headed to the work site. When we got to the site, we were met by a couple of interesting gentlemen who happened to be our construction site leaders. I did not know what to expect at first, but the day wasn’t that stressful.
Before we started working, we were given a rundown and orientation of all the equipment and how to safely use it. We found out that out of the six construction site leaders, only two are actually paid Habitat employees. The others were giving up their free time to help. The site we’re working on is a leveled plot of land which is being prepared for a ground-up house build.
After we were taught how to operate the equipment, we spent the day building door and window frames. Some of us on the site knew how to do the basic things like hammering nails and cutting wood, but I can say that every one of us learned something new today. I, for one, learned that I had been pronouncing DeKalb wrong (its pronounced like “da cab”).
Today was an extremely productive day and I cannot wait to do more work. It was crazy to see the door frame that I helped build come together. To see a pile of wood be made into something that a family will walk through every day was surreal. It really helps me to understand what I am doing down here in Georgia.
Tomorrow’s going to be another great day.
Tyler is the third from right in the photo below.
Hello, everyone! Bree DeMoss signing on!
I am currently a junior at Pitt-Greensburg and I am excited to say this is my very first Habitat trip!
After 11 hours of laughs and singalongs, I, along with my fellow 24 Habitat trip members, settled into the quaint little town of Tucker, Georgia. With our bags unloaded, we’ve settled into the church we will be staying in. After settling in, the gang set out to explore the area! We stopped for lunch at The Cook Out to try some Southern barbecue (Fantastic, I might add).
At the suggestion of our work site coordinator, we headed to Stone Mountain. This is the highest stone mountain in the United States and our group pushed straight to the top. Nothing shakes out your legs after a long car ride quite like climbing a mountain. This was by far one of the most amazing experiences so far. The view was exquisite and the feeling of pushing yourself to climb to the top was so empowering and well worth the journey. Afterwards, we headed to Walmart to grab food to fuel us for our work week and spent the night getting to know one another over scooters and pizza.
The most surreal part so far is the encouragement from those who see our Habitat vans or t-shirts. They express so much support and love for the work of the organization. It is such a rewarding feeling to give back and to see how happy it makes others.
With Day One complete, I am so thankful for this opportunity to be a part of Habitat for Humanity and this Spring Break trip. I can’t wait to spend the week getting to know these wonderful individuals and giving back to the Tucker community. I would like to personally thank all who contributed and supported this trip- we wouldn’t have this opportunity without your generosity!
Time to get to work!
Thank you all so much for the overwhelming support! We truly appreciate your contributions for our cause. With less than a week before we head off to Tucker, Georgia, we have far surpassed our goal of $3,000. I am so excited to start this experience.
My name is Hannah Conner and I am currently a sophomore at Pitt-Greensburg. This will be my second spring break trip and I am really looking forward to working on the build site while making new friends at the same time.
I was not involved much with Habitat for Humanity before my first spring break trip to Birmingham, Alabama. I signed up for the trip because I wanted to make a beneficial impact during my spring break and it was a whole new experience for me traveling down south. I really wasn’t acquainted with anyone going on the trip so I was honestly nervous at first. I had never even used a hammer before so I had no idea what to expect. I can genuinely say that after a week, I came home with 24 new friends. Everyone was so nice and helpful along the way, I immediately felt comfortable.
I have always enjoyed spending my time in volunteer work but last year's spring break trip made me fall in love with Habitat for Humanity's mission. I am now serving my first year as the Fundraising Chair of our campus chapter and I have been enjoying every minute of it. There are no words to describe how amazing it is to know that you are helping to make a family’s dream come true.
Thank you all again for your motivation and support! We are excited to keep you updated on this awesome journey!
From now until the end of our trip, our group will be posting frequent updates to fill you in on the exciting things we will be doing! Our first update is from first-time trip attendee, Taylor Mayhue! Here's what Taylor has to say about her thoughts before the trip:
My name is Taylor Mayhue and this will be my first Habitat for Humanity Spring Break trip. I am very excited to be a part of this experience and to help families in need. I did not know a lot about Habitat prior to signing up for the club, but I wanted to try new things. After attending a few meetings, I knew this was the club for me.
When I was chosen to go on the spring break trip, I was ecstatic. I want to go on this trip because I would like to give back to the community. I also feel better knowing that I will be spending my spring break helping a family that needs help instead of spending my break not doing anything productive. I am still not entirely sure what to expect when arriving in Tucker, Georgia, but I know it will be an overall great experience.
I am excited to meet new people and to build a house in the end. I have never worked on a house before, so this will be a learning experience for me. Can’t wait for Spring Break to finally arrive!
Thank you for your support of this trip.
Nails are some of the smallest components of the construction of a new home; yet they are the most vital in holding it together.
The roof of a home protects the family from the outdoor elements. It takes many roof shingles to protect a home.
The windows to a home allow the family to see out into the community. They also allow warmth and sunlight in while keeping the cold out.
Doors to a home provide the family with a sense of safety, security, and privacy. They allow the family to control who and what comes into the home.
Drywall and paint are what helps provide a finished look to the interior of a home. It helps to create a welcoming and warm atmosphere in the home.
A home truly becomes a home once it is furnished with appliances. Appliances are often amenities that compliment the home and are crucial to a family's efficiency and day-to-day living.
Siding on the outside of the home protects the home from the elements and also puts a finishing touch on the home. It serves dual purposes and assures that a home will be protected for years to come.
The landscaping outside of the home helps extend a family's home into the outdoors. A yard provides a place for the kids to play, and other landscaping features increase a home's curb appeal.